Europeans can hardly afford to live in Europe

Habitat for Humanity launches Housing Review 2015

The housing crisis sparked by the 2008 global financial meltdown is far from over in Europe. An in-depth look at the region in Habitat for Humanity’s biannual Housing Review show this ‘silent emergency’ is getting worse and at a faster rate.

Some of the key takeaways from the report include:

  • More than 10% of Europeans have housing costs that exceed half of their household’s income. In Central and Eastern Europe, it’s even worse with some households spend 30- 50% of income on winter heating bills. 
  • The percentage of young adults aged 18-34 living with parents is at record highs, reaching 55% in Portugal to 74% in Slovenia, creating “generation rent”.
  • New housing construction has dropped across the region by 70-90% with social housing running well below 10% of the current needs.  This has forced citizens to live in inadequate housing or emigrate to find a decent home.
  • There is an increasing gap between poverty and affluence in dynamic urban centers creating the “new housing poverty” phenomenon where skilled and highly trained professionals move to commuter zones because they can no longer afford living in cities.

What is clear is that Europe needs to find ways to develop and provide housing for its citizens regardless of income. The report recommends increased investment in housing to make it more affordable, sustainable and, ultimately, more livable.  Solutions range from new funding and lending options; better and more extensive use of modern building technologies and materials to reduce energy costs and environmental impact; and housing policies that promote social integration and neighborhood regeneration.

With the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa over the past 18 months, the housing problems in Europe will only get worse.  The report highlights the lack of access to decent housing, a basic human right, could have severe economic and social implications in the years to come. 

For detailed information, Housing Review 2015 is now available online